Here’s The Definitive Ranking Of The Best Cartoon Theme Songs From Your Childhood
"Life is like a hurricane..."
There’s a good chance that without knowing exactly how, you still remember every single lyric to your favourite cartoon theme songs.
Can you even remember that rush of blood and endorphins upon hearing the opening chords to Transformers, to Darkwing Duck, to Sailor Moon? Of course you can, you nerd.
It’s time to rush home from school, ignore your mother and glue your sweaty little eyes to the TV screen, because baby, cartoons are on.
There was a weird golden era during the late eighties and nineties, in which Saturday morning cartoons reigned supreme.
They were odd beasts — often weirdly appropriated footage from Japanese shows which were cut and dubbed over for western audiences, usually with strong themes of imperialism, moralistic diatribes, environmentalism and things dunked in toxic waste.
And the songs. The songs! Oh Jim, they’
The Best Cartoon Theme Songs From The Eighties And Nineties
Why was the music to 80s/90s cartoons so incredibly good? We’ll never know, or more specifically, I’ll never tell. But what we have done is curate the ten best/weirdest opening songs (and clips) from the cartoons of yore.
If we’ve missed any of your favourites, it could be because they were never on in Australia, or it could be because they were bad shows and your taste is terrible.
So, in cascading order of nothing in particular:
So many cartoon songs in this list are big rock numbers, all guitar and energy and overstimulated child. That’s why it’s nice to have a bloody jaunty number like TaleSpin in the mix — not to mention how good that big guffaw in the song is.
There is no song in the history of music that better sums up the eighties than this song. It’s all about lasers, working overtime, and a shocked boy riding around a sassy egg.
I mean honestly, what even was this cartoon about exactly? Nobody remembers — but you have to remember that gnarly theme song. Not only is it a great tune in itself, it has a space-cowboy guitar solo in space.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Truly a punk anthem for green teens for love pizza. One of the highlights is the fact that everyone is given a role, including Michaelangelos iconic status as “a party dude”.
I always identified the most with Splinter, because I was a radical rat.
This is a BOP, especially when you realise that the majority of the song is just one word repeated over and over, some fancy guitar work and then a furious Mummy screaming.
Jem and the Holograms
Why exactly did Jem need to have magical holographic earrings exactly? The entire premise of the show really would have been fine as ‘eighties rivalry between two amazing bands who both have spectacular fashion sense and songs’ but there was also that woman who lived in the computer? Why did Jem run an orphanage?
Anyway, this theme song is spectacular, as is the majority of the music in this very musically themed show. Extra points for the theme song being hijacked by The Misfits.
“We are The Misfits, our songs are better….”
They were better.
Has there ever been a more ambitious rhyme in children’s television than “when there’s trouble you call DW”? I don’t think so.
The intro to Captain Planet has everything — it’s got a spoken word section about the dangers of pollution, it’s got a solo that truly feels like it’s sung by a dude with a green mullet, it’s got a chorus that honestly motivates you to recycle.
I love it when the villain yells “You’ll pay for this, Captain Planet.”
There’s a strong theory bandied around (by me at the pub) that Captain Planet is directly responsible for 90% of vegans.
The only theme song without lyrics in the entire list, the X-Men Animated Series can still bring chills to one’s aged skin.
The drama, the flashing neons, the clanking robots — it was enough to send even the most stoic of non-adult into complete overstimulation and soon you’ll be told to “leave your brother alone or so help me god”.
“D-d-d-danger what’s behind you, there’s a stranger out to find you…”
Honestly, there’s no more iconic cartoon song than the Duck Tales opening. It’s a certifiable banger, it helps establish the scrappy, happy-go-lucky energy of the cartoon, and it’s well written!
If you are somehow immune to all this good energy, try watching the 2017 reboot cast, including David Tennant, Ben Schwartz, Danny Pudi, Beck Bennet, and many more have a big and joyous sing of it.
Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton